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Posts from the ‘Colombia’ Category

Dulce de Mora

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The weather is defrosting, but I spent Sunday half inside my freezer where I found the nearly forgotten bag of moras.  Also called Andean blackberries, moras are a little more tart, firmer, and brighter than the blackberries commonly found in the US.  I’d picked them up in an amazing Latin American market in Jackson Heights.  Well-stocked with incredible variety but hard to get to, I brought back as much as I could carry.  A few months later, I’ve barely made a dent in the frozen guavas, jarred loroco, or guasca leaves I stockpiled.  I was looking to change this and remembered a dessert my friend’s mother, Mari Ines, made when she was teaching me how to make ajiaco Bogotano.  In the time it took her to finish the ajiaco, she simmered the berries in syrup and served them with queso fresco.  After calling Mari Ines for the recipes and ratios, I quickly made it for friends that night.  There are so many things I’m looking forward to this summer, but in these in between days, it felt good to take advantage of what I already had. Read more

Ajiaco Bogotano

It seems that every time I look for a Colombian recipe, I fall into a soup bowl. With winter going fast and a long weekend to seek out hard to find ingredients, I was finally ready to attempt ajiaco Bogotano. Until recently, I’d only know the Cuban version – a heavy blend of root vegetables, plantains, pork and beef. In Bogota, ajiaco is a chicken only affair, thickened with three kinds of potatoes and flavored with cilantro, scallions and guascas, a pre-Columbian herb with medicinal properties and daisy relatives. When I tried it for the first time last year, I loved the ritual of adding your own dollop of thick cream, briny capotes, sliced avocado and even more cilantro from the garnishes brought to the table. Looking for a recipe, my friend Carolina’s mother, Mari Ines, tried to walk me through it on the phone but I wasn’t quite getting it. I knew I’d be home for a few days so I more or less invited myself over see it done first hand. Read more

Caldo de Costilla

I’ve started to think of Los Paisanos meat market on Smith Street as my own, personal, model UN. Ostensibly Italian, it’s largely staffed by Central and South Americans. Though helpful when I’m looking to translate a recipe, it can get touchy. Guatemala may concede but Mexico isn’t too happy when I defer to Colombia.  This is what happened when I went there a couple of weeks ago with a vague idea that I wanted to try caldo de costilla – a Colombian beef rib broth flavored with potatoes, scallions and cilantro. Not surprisingly, without consensus, the results were uneven. Read more

Catching Up in March

March has been such a whirl that I made it all the way to April before I could stop and catch my breath. It started well with my first contribution to the Cooking Channel’s Devour the Blog  and it was great to see so many of you making the jump. A new post on stocking my Latin pantry went up yesterday with more to follow. I laid my cupboard bare (well I straightened it up first) so I hope you’ll visit the site again and let us know what’s in yours.  I also wrote a piece about Latin American staples - Running with the Grains -  for Marcus Samuelsson‘s Food Republic that combines two favorite obsessions – seeking out new ingredients and running till I just can’t anymore.  A new site covering everyone from Junot Diaz to Michelle Bernstein (who also helps spices up school lunches here), I was thrilled to be a part of their launch this week. Read more

Arroz con Coco

Arroz con coco rates high on the long list of things I should have tried sooner.  A staple of Caribbean cooking, especially along the coast of Colombia, it’s essentially white rice cooked with coconut milk then served with fried fish, plantains, avocado.  Deceptively simple, I used equal parts canned light coconut milk and water for the first attempt, combining all the ingredients and bringing them to a fast boil.  The result was great if I was going for rice pudding but otherwise too sticky and un-fluffable.  Trying to get the proportions and the timing right, I used a second can and sautéed the rice with a little bit of oil before adding the liquid.  It may have worked but I let it go too long and the amount of rice was way off, so it burned before it cooked. Read more

Tequila-Cured Salmon Gravlax

A friend from Seattle once described his family’s Christmas tree ritual.  Every December, they’d go to the woods, pick a tree, argue a little, cut it down, then bring it home where they’d have hot chocolate together.  A lovely story, but so wholesome, it seemed exotic.  Told to a bunch of urbanites who believed Christmas trees sprouted up spontaneously from the sidewalks in front of grocery stores once a year, we wanted to know if there was a designated “tree section” of the forest.  That’s the way I felt about making my own gravlax which I’d only bought pre-packaged and ready to serve (random connection I know but they’re both related to the Pacific Northwest).  I love sushi, ceviche and all things smoked and cured, but when it comes to fish, I relied on chefs and Nova Scotians to tell me when it’s raw and when it’s lunch.  This week I found a recipe for tequila-cured salmon topped with mango and lime relish that changed my mind. Read more

Changua

I’ve written a lot about comfort food this past summer.  It must be natural when so many things I make are from my childhood and it is a childish season after all.  This week I got a take on comfort food I hadn’t considered before.  I was talking to one of my oldest friends who’s going through a difficult time.  Wanting to make some small gesture of support, I offered to make her something, anything.  If she could think of a great dish she had growing up, I’d work out the ingredients and write it up for her.  She suggested changua, a milk-onion-egg soup from the central Andes of Colombia.  Loved the name, but it didn’t sound very appetizing, especially for breakfast when it’s typically served in Bogotá with a piece of calado or almojábana bread to soak it up.  I had images of cracking open coconuts and frying fish but she wanted changua.  Milk soup, really? Read more

Catching Up in January

I took advantage of a rainy Sunday to catch up on some reading though, instead of newspaper stacks, I had  bookmarked pages and Google alerts filling up my inbox.  For the New York Times, Jonathan Miles visited Roneria Caracas, a new Brooklyn bar specializing in rum drinks, in The Choices? Rum or Rum and doesn’t miss the whisky while Paola Singer went to western Spain to sample the Dom Pérignon of Iberian ham for In Spain, A Delicacy Rooted in Earth and Tradition. Meanwhile, Read more

Pan de Yuca

Though I’d love to have homemade rolls every day, I stay away from bread recipes for first thing.  They never seem to rise and bulk up in the time promised.  I wake up early and spend the morning nervously peeking at the dough I lovingly covered in its blanky and placed in a draft free place to no avail.  One hour becomes two and there’s no breakfast in sight.  By the time it’s done, I’m too cranky to really enjoy it.  I didn’t get to sleep in yet the dough enjoyed a leisurely rise.  When I came across pan de yuca or yuca bread in a Miami, I was curious.  A combination of yuca flour (also known as tapioca starch) and cheese, it can be mixed and rolled as quickly as arepas then baked off.   Read more

Figure Eights

There’s always a point when I finish a post and choose a country category that feels a little dishonest.  Well not so much dishonest but not the whole elephant either.  When I decided to write about Latin food, I knew that it would be a fuzzy focus and difficult to define.  Buñuelos, fritters popular throughout Spain and Latin America, are a good example.  Originally from the Iberian penninsula, they’re either Arabic or Sephardic, or maybe both.  Typically made from a wheat-based dough that’s flavored with anise, they’re rolled into balls or discs and deep fried then topped with a syrup or honey. Read more

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